I don’t know about you, but I love reading author interviews. I also love giving my students opportunities to interact with real-life authors. So I figured, why not bring these two things together and have students interview authors here on my blog! Welcome to the first installment of this student-author interview series, featuring Amy Rose Capetta. Amy Rose is the author of Entangled, an awesome sci-fi adventure story about a girl named Cade who finds out that she’s entangled at a sub-atomic level with a guy she’s never met and has to travel through space to try to save him.
In this and other author interviews I feature here, my students will share what they liked most about the author’s book, ask questions about the book, and ask questions about what the author was like in middle school. Got it? Okay then! Let’s get started.
First, here’s what some of my middle school students love about Entangled:
Mary G.: I really like the way Amy Rose writes. I think it’s dreamy, surreal, and awesome. The way she writes sounds like the setting she’s writing about somehow. It fits. I also like that even though this book is in third-person, the narration sounds like Cade. I loved that at the beginning things are kind of confusing. I love when books are confusing at first and you have to keep reading to figure things out!
Casey: I also liked that I had to figure things out at the beginning. When I got further on, after Xan was introduced, I liked the action and the adventure that started from there.
Mary D.: I liked how the events weren’t all happy, and I liked the ending, because it wasn’t just happy, but it wasn’t depressing. It was bittersweet.
Madeline: I see on the first page that Cade wears lots of black and sometimes can’t stand other people. Do you wear black and are you antisocial, too? Or are you more like another character than like Cade?
Antisocial? Oh, yeah. I was a hundred different shades of antisocial. No black in my wardrobe, though! I loved bright colors. My original daydream of Cade (way before I knew anything about the plot,) was about a punk rock girl on a faraway desert planet. Black is traditional for punk and actually smart to wear in hot weather, so when Cade started getting dressed and all of her clothes were black, I went with it.
I wouldn’t say I’m outgoing now, but like Cade, I found a way to connect with people. A lot of what she goes through is a (big, adventurous, sci-fi) version of what I went through at seventeen.
But overall, the character I’m most like is Ayumi—nerdy to the core, buried in her notebooks, doing her own thing.
Quinn: How did you create the world that’s in this book?
The process of creating the world in the book was different from what I’m used to. Before, if a story I wanted to write took place in a fantasy or sci-fi world, I would keep notebooks (like Ayumi!) and make maps of places that didn’t exist. The process of creating that other place could take months. I did all of that for Entangled, but after I started. I let the universe of the story evolve as I wrote. When I had a draft, I went back and made sure it all worked—and I hadn’t changed the names of the planets halfway through.
Mary D.: How much time per day do you spend writing, and how long did it take to write this book?
I get in a good four-to-five hour stretch of writing every day, even when I have other work to do. Whenever I can, I’ll add a second session, which can be shorter, or longer if I’m almost at a deadline! It took me four months to write the first draft of Entangled, and another three to revise it. That was all before an editor bought it, and then there were more revisions, and copyedits. The process of writing Entangled, from start to finish, took eleven months.
Dasha: Do you procrastinate?
I used to procrastinate a lot more than I do now. But I also used to sit still for longer. Now, if I need a break, I’ll take one—get lunch, go for a walk, finally get out of my pajamas. (If people knew how much time writers spend in their pajamas, they would be horrified. Or jealous! Depending on how much you like pajamas.) But I’ve decided that when I’m in writing mode, I have to keep my words on the screen. It allows me to get deeper into the story, and that’s when a lot of the best stuff happens—the surprises, the character development, the humor—basically, the parts I can’t plan.
Casey: How and when did you get into writing?
I got into writing early. I had a third grade teacher who loved all things fantasy. I always loved to write, but combining it with the love of adventure and other worlds is what really made an impact. I had a hard time focusing on the “real world”—and I still do. I think that most adults narrow things down too much. The world is a lot stranger than we think it is. That’s why I love science! It’s a great reminder of that, and a great source to steal ideas for stories.
Mary G.: You say at one point that Cade has light brown skin, so I imagined her being biracial, but then on the cover she looks white. How did you imagine her looking? Does the girl on the cover look like the Cade you imagined?
That is a fantastic question. I could go on and on and on about this subject, but here’s the short answer:
In the future that I imagined, over 1,000 years from now, pretty much everyone is what we would now consider biracial (or, really, multiracial.) Leaving Earth in small numbers, and being lumped together as an undesirable group by nonhuman species, had a big effect on the humans. The remaining population is scattered, so there’s still a lot of genetic variation.
When I imagined the human characters, I wanted to make it clear we weren’t in an all-white future. (Which would be creepy and make no sense.) The publisher was totally on board with a cover that featured Cade’s light brown skin tone, but the original cover didn’t look very sci-fi or futuristic, so the blue was added. The thing that I’ve always liked about the girl in the picture is that her features read as somewhat Asian to me, and with a brown skin tone and a mix of Caucasian and Asian features, she would be a multiracial Cade, like I imagined. Is the Cade on the cover a little different than the Cade in my head? Sure. But I’ve always liked the idea that we can all have different but valid images of a character. The Cade in my head is probably different from the Cade in yours, too, and that’s sort of cool.
Dasha: Did you get ideas or inspiration from other authors or books? If so, which ones?
Definitely! I am always inspired by other books and authors. In this case, I read a lot of sci-fi when I was a teenager, but about 98% of it felt like it was written by male authors, about male characters, for male readers. I wanted to write a space epic that didn’t read like there should be a No Girls Allowed sign stapled to it.
Now for some questions about Amy Rose in middle school:
Dasha: What was your favorite class and your favorite book?
I loved science classes. I can still recite a lot of the periodic table and draw a mean Punnett square.
My favorite books around that time were the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, which starts with The Golden Compass. I was waiting for the third book to come out, and I read the first two over and over and over…Books in a trilogy didn’t come out a year apart from each other then! More like five.
Casey: Was there a writing or literature club in your middle school, and if there was were you in it?
There was no writing or literature club in my middle school. Do you have that? I would have loved it. In middle school I did start writing my first long stories. They were hand-written in multiple composition notebooks, then typed and shared with my best friend. He was amazing and actually read them. (Did I mention they were long? Really long. Like, longer than Entangled.) It was pretty great to send him a copy of a published book, and say thank you.
Mary D.: What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer. I was so single-minded. (I guess I still am.) And I was so lucky to be surrounded by supportive people who didn’t tell me that it was impossible.
Madeline: What was your favorite dessert then, and what is it now?
So hard to pick! I have a monstrous sweet tooth. I even worked as a baker for a while.
Then: strawberry shortcake
Now: dark chocolate, all the time, everywhere, with anything, on top of anything
If you haven’t already, definitely check out Entangled, and then you can look forward to the upcoming sequel, Unmade!
Photo of Amy Rose from amyrosecapetta.com, photo credit: Cori McCarthy. Book cover image from Goodreads.com